If a breath of fresh air and a taste of small town living is more your speed, the towns of the Philadelphia countryside will feed your rural ruminations, and are a breezy train or car ride from the city center.
The historic town of Kennett Square imbues a sophistication and foodie distinction that comes with being labeled the “Mushroom Capital of the World”. The local farms produce close to 60% of the country’s fungi, and an annual festival is held in September. Get to know the varieties and healing and nutritional benefits at The Mushroom Cap shop and museum located on the main street. Pom Pom mushroom chips anyone?
Next door at the much loved Talula’s Table, dinner guests lock in their reservation to dine at the farm table up to one year in advance. We’re talking fresh from the farmer’s garden to your mouth, serving up comfort food dishes like macaroni and cheese, baked chicken, grilled salmon, and tender tomatoes and asparagus prepared to perfection. No need to despair if you can’t dine at the table, takeout is an option. Across the street you’ll find Philter, the local go-to coffee hangout. They’ve teamed up with local gourmet Mexican ice cream parlor La Michocana to offer the decadent Affogato, an espresso shot over a scoop of dreamy vanilla michocana ice cream. Lastly, a must-see for “The Book of Negroes” fans is a visit to the Kennett Underground Railroad Center to learn the story of slavery and their road to freedom. The Kennett Square area has reportedly the largest concentration of secret safe houses in the nation.
Award-winning father daughter wine making duo at Penns Woods Winery knows how to host a good party. There’s always something going on, from wine festivals to car shows. The 3rd annual Run the Vineyards Vine and Wines 5K event is set for May 17th. Themed wine pairing events are held in the tasting room, located inside a darling century clapboard farmhouse in Chadds Ford. Monthly pairings include wine with cheese and honey, chocolate, and gourmet cupcakes. Enjoy outdoor concerts and movie screenings on the barn, picnics, yoga in the vineyard, and special culinary food truck events. This is a place where you can walk barefoot in the grass with a superb glass of Pinot Grigio, and simply enjoy the vineyard with a view.
The historic town of West Chester in the Brandywine Valley is home to West Chester University. The university hosts several arts organizations, including the Kennett Symphony and the Brandywine Ballet. Heritage enthusiasts will be pleased to discover the more than 4,200 West Chester structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Drop by the Chester County Historical Society where you can learn how former president Abraham Lincoln has a connection to the town. Along the main street you’ll spot a cat hospital, trendy vintage clothing shops and bakeries. Avalon Restaurant serves fresh Italian cuisine by fireside, and Kreutz Creek Vineyards Tasting Room hosts a Bring Your Own Food option and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. For a taste of history and perhaps a few ghost stories, enjoy a candlelit dinner at Dilworthtown Inn, once a private home built in 1754.
Fans of vintage movie theaters will find it intriguing to visit Hotel Warner, a 1930s movie theater turned hotel on the main street. The original façade is intact, as is the lobby and elegant staircase leading to the second floor eating area. It’s easy to imagine the movie reels spinning. There’s even buttered popcorn in the lobby! If this has you inspired to take in some entertainment, why not join a tour of the QVC studios, the home shopping channel’s headquarters, located in West Chester.
In Glen Mills, Terrain is the botanical jackpot of gardening centers. It’s a nursery, lifestyle and home décor boutique, and greenhouse cafe all rolled into one elegantly landscaped property. Delicious farm to table dishes are served in the antique greenhouse. After brunch, you’ll find everything from fire pits and tea lamps to hydrangea petal earrings and truffle honey, courtesy of the owner of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Certainly after experiencing the abundant ornamental gardens in the Pennsylvania countryside, you won’t be able to resist the treasures at Terrain.